Did You Know the F-M Area Achieved Functional Zero?

The Fargo Moorhead area has gotten homeless veterans off the streets and into housing

FARGO, ND — There are only 50 communities in the country that have connected all homeless veterans with housing options, and Fargo/Moorhead is one of them.

We’ll tell you about this accomplishment and how it was achieved.

“Reaching functional zero has been a mind boggling experience; it’s been wonderful,” said Diana Hall, with the Fargo VA.

The Fargo Moorhead area has gotten homeless veterans off the streets and into housing.

“The response to their needs is almost immediate with the VA,” said Babs Coler, with Churches United.

“Functional zero really shows that we can achieve an end to homelessness for all populations,” said Carla Solen, the Continuing Care Coordinator for West Center Minnesota.

But what exactly does functional zero mean?

“If there’s a veteran that’s homeless that we can shelter them immediately and we make an offer to them of a permanent housing option within 14 days and we get them housed in permanent housing within 90 days,” Hall said.

Those at the Fargo VA say they have done everything in their power to find those veterans in our community.

“They are going to the shelters, going out on the streets being able to respond to our other agency partners if somebody is homeless,” Solem said.

This has been a work in progress with about 60 different agencies that are members of the Fargo Moorhead Coalition of the Homeless.

“We’ve partnered with almost all of them in one way or another in order to achieve this goal,” Hall said.

They started by taking a housing first philosophy.

“Follow up with them and provide that follow up service to assure that that veteran is being cared for,” Solem said.

“The mental health issues of why they don’t do well in a building well it reminds them of being in underground bunkers so how do you work through some of those issues,” Coler said.

That is just one example. Each veteran has a different story.

“Giving people that opportunity to start over, giving them a second chance, giving them the supports and the housing that they need,” Solem said.

Achieving functional zero is the first step in targeting a nationwide problem.

“Not only can homeless in veterans be ended but homelessness in all populations can be ended because we know that these models work,” Hall said.

In Minnesota, the northwest and southwest parts of the state have reached functional zero.

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